Tag Archives: Christianity

What makes you happy?


This is one of the most important questions there are. Happiness is what every human being seeks. We want to be happy, no matter how young or old, or the color of your skin, level of education, race, or sex, the fact it is that happiness is at the center of the human heart. In the words of philosopher Peter Kreeft:

We don’t want to be happy because we think  it will lead us to something else, we seek other things because we think that they will make us happy”.

Happiness is not a means to an end. Happiness is an end in itself, is what we all ultimately seek, in everything we do: we want to be happy.

What is happiness?

If happiness is an end in itself, then what is happiness? Happiness is not a feeling. Feelings come and go, they can’t be controlled. Otherwise, why not feel happy all the time? True happiness on the other hand, is independent of how you feel.  The “feeling of happiness” is a side effect, not its cause. Happiness is rather something else, something deeper. Happiness is the fulfillment of your inner most longing, which is to love and to be loved.

The saints are great examples, because they are all lovers. They completely empty themselves for the sake of the other.  Look at Mother Theresa, for most of her life she didn’t feel that “feeling of happiness” quite the opposite, she experienced no consolation or “feeling of happiness”, but she was truly happy.  If you see her working with the poor, you can see the joy in her eyes. She was happy, because she was fulfilling her deepest longing: she was a lover of souls.

We are happy, when we fulfill that longing, that tug in our hearts, that calls us towards real and concrete LOVE.  In the Christian anthropology, man was created in the image of God, and through revelation we know that God is Love. Thereby, love is in the fabric of who we are.

How can we be happy?

In one of the most moving and intimate passages in the bible, Jesus, tells us:

As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.

This takes everything that we think about happiness and turns it upside down! We tend to associate happiness with doing whatever we want, however we want it, whenever we want it, but Christ tells us that true happiness can be found by following God’s commandments.  That’s the whole point of the moral law,  the commandments, far from being a restrictive set of rules, that makes us less free, they truly set us free to love each other, by seeking the good. Furthermore, they allow us to remain in His Love and because His Love is Perfect, it is the only thing in the world that is big enough to fill your heart and make you truly happy.

Anything else will simply fall short!

Caleb

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Mental Sufferings of Our Lord in His Passion by Cardinal John Henry Newman

crucifixion

EVERY passage in the history of our Lord and Saviour is of unfathomable depth, and affords inexhaustible matter of contemplation. All that concerns Him is infinite, and what we first discern is but the surface of that which begins and ends in eternity. It would be presumptuous for any one short of saints and doctors to attempt to comment on His words and deeds, except in the way of meditation; but meditation and mental prayer are so much a duty in all who wish to cherish true faith and love towards Him, that it may be allowed us, my brethren, under the guidance of holy men who have gone before us, to dwell and enlarge upon what otherwise would more fitly be adored than scrutinised. And certain times of the year, this especially [Note], call upon us to consider, as closely and minutely as we can, even the more sacred portions of the Gospel history. I would rather be thought feeble or officious in my treatment of them, than wanting to the Season; and so I now proceed because the religious usage of the Church requires it, {324} and though any individual preacher may well shrink from it, to direct your thoughts to a subject, especially suitable now, and about which many of us perhaps think very little, the sufferings which our Lord endured in His innocent and sinless soul.

To continue reading click here.

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“O Heart of Jesus, all Love, I offer Thee these humble prayers for myself, and for all those who unite themselves with me in Spirit to adore Thee. O holiest Heart of Jesus most lovely, I intend to renew and to offer to Thee these acts of adoration and these prayers, for myself a wretched sinner, and for all those who are associated with me in Thy adoration, through all moments while I breathe, even to the end of my life. I recommend to Thee, O my Jesus, Holy Church, Thy dear spouse and our true Mother, all just souls and all poor sinners, the afflicted, the dying, and all mankind. Let not Thy Blood be shed for them in vain. Finally, deign to apply it in relief of the souls in Purgatory, of those in particular who have practised in the course of their life this holy devotion of adoring Thee.”

Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman
Discourse 16

St. Jude: The Patron Saint of the Impossible.

I am always fascinated by how many people find this blog post through internet searches…

St. Jude Pray for Us

Intrepid Muses

SaintJudeThaddeus

Today is the feast day of St. Jude, apostle of Christ and  patron saint of impossible causes.  He authored the Letter of Jude and according to tradition traveled as far as Persia, to the east, and as far as Libya to the west. He was martyred in Syria with an axe.

His letter is a powerful testament of his faith and fortitude in Christ against heresy and the dominions of the world.  Many miracles have been attributed to his powerful interception hence tradition holds him to be the patron saint of impossible causes.

In honor of his feast day and the wonderful gift of his faith in Christ I hope you can read the following excerpt from his only recorded letter in scripture:

Jude 1:17-25

Exhortations

But you, beloved, remember the words spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ,

for they told you, “In [the] last time…

View original post 189 more words

Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.

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It is easy to be discouraged. All we have to do is to make a fair and honest assessment of today’s culture from the news to pop culture. The evidence of a fallen world abounds and if we are honest and look ourselves the picture doesn’t look any better. We are fallen creatures in constant need of conversion, prayer and growth in faith, hope and charity.

As our culture becomes more and more secularized and the memory of a Christian West starts fading into the history it will become more and more difficult to abide by the side of the everlasting man. As Cardinal Francis George said:

“I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square”.

Yet many people who quote him often forget to quote what he says next:

His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.”

A time may come when Christianity will be brutally persecuted in the West, but it will not be the end. It will only be a new beginning. History has proven this over and over again from the persecution of Christians by the Roman Empire to the persecution Orthodox Christianity by the Arian heretics during the early centuries of Christianity; from the persecution of the Catholic Church in England during the revolt of King Henry VIII to the brutal persecution of the priesthood during the French revolution, the Church has always emerged to pick up the pieces and stand for Truth and the Light of Christ.

A few weeks ago the teens from my parish were confirmed in their Catholic faith through the celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation. That is the laying of the hands and the infusion of the Holy Spirit into their hearts:

“Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, who went down and prayed for them, that they might receive the holy Spirit, for it had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them and they received the holy Spirit”.

Acts 19:6

“Therefore, let us leave behind the basic teaching about Christ and advance to maturity, without laying the foundation all over again: repentance from dead works and faith in God, instruction about baptisms and laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. And we shall do this, if only God permits”.

Hebrew 6:1-3

Confirmation is one of the most beautiful modern rite of passage. It is an opportunity for teens not only to learn about their Christian faith but also to take ownership of their Faith. The catechism of the Catholic Church explains it very beautifully:

“Confirmation…gives us a special strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ, to confess the name of Christ boldly, and never to be ashamed of the Cross…”

CC paragraph 1303

This is a call to boldly confess the name of Christ and to never be ashamed of the Cross. This can be especially hard for Christians today because it is such a counter cultural statement to profess the sanctity of life, the beauty of chastity as a single and as a married person, to defend the poor, the weak and the dying and to promote the reference to that which is holy.

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God gives us the graces to accomplish all these things through the Holy Spirit. The question is:

What are we going to do with the Graces that God has given us?

There can only be two answers to this question: either we take these graces seriously and become saints or ignored them and become indifferent. Indifference always leads to death.

Indifference implies certain a level of understanding, for you can’t be indifferent about things that you know. For Christian indifference mainly arises out of willful ignorance because people are afraid of genuinely committing to understand because they know what it will demand of them. After all Jesus said:

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. He gave us everything and yet we are hesitant of giving anything back.

Mathew 16:24-25

These are tough words! But he also said talking to Peter, who was sinking in the middle of a storm:

“Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

Mathew 14:27

He is speaking to you and me today as he was speaking to his disciples:

Be not afraid of your own weakness because He will be there to strengthen you.

Be not afraid of your own ignorance because He will be there to enlighten you.

Be not afraid of your own impurities because He will be there to purify you.

“Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

He also says:

Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.* And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

Mathew 28:18-20

He promised us to be with us until the end of the age!

He is really there in the Holy Eucharist, His Body, His Blood, His Soul and His Divinity. Just waiting for you!

He is there when we go to Confession; when the Priest says: “I absolve you of your sin”. That is Christ telling you: “I absolve you of your sins”.

He is there preaching the gospel to all nations through His Church.

He is there in the silence of your heart. When you say: father, please show me the way because I don’t know.

“Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

Mathew 14:27

This is how we are able to boldly proclaim his name and never be ashamed of the Cross because he is always going to be with us!

As we look forward to the Week that changed the world, let us look at Him on the Cross, look at his tortured body, at his pierced holy hands, at the wound in his chest from which blood and water pour for the salvation of the world…and listen, just listen to him…

He yearns for you.
He did it for you.
How can you be afraid?

A Lesson in Forgiveness

Can’t you keep your heart from being moved? Please always remember them in your prayers.

“Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked them,but Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” After he placed his hands on them, he went away”.

Matthew 19:14

Just today:

Islamic State in Syria abducts at least 90 Christians: monitor

Islamic Persecution of Christians

JamesFoleyPicture of James Foley murdered by ISIS:  Man of Incredible Bravery and about his witness of faith: Slain journalist James Foley on praying the rosary in captivity.

The recent slaying of the freelancer journalist James Foley moved me deeply. In the mist of this tragic incident and the displacement and murder of thousands of people in Iraq the Bishop of Mosul, Iraq made a poignant statement:

“I lost my diocese. The physical setting of my apostolate has been occupied by Islamic radicals who want us converted or dead. But my community is still alive.”

Amel Shimoun Nona
Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Mosul, Iraq

This is not radical Islam is taking over the region, but rather Islam reaffirms itself in the region against more moderate and progressive version of Islam. The West in its desperate down spiral identity crisis refuses to admit such a self-evident truth at its own existential peril. The archbishop continues by saying:

“Islam does not say that all men are equal,” and if Westerners “do not understand this soon enough, you will become the victims of the enemy you have welcomed into your home.”

The pity is that anyone in the west, making such statements will be immediately labeled an islamophobe, accused of bigotry, publicly chastised and marginalized by people that either are ignorant of history and Islamic teachings or by people with suspect agendas. The fundamental problem as Pope Benedict XVI identified in his now famous Regensburg address is Islam’s view of the nature of God:

…for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality. Here Khoury quotes a work of the noted French Islamist R. Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazm went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God’s will, we would even have to practise idolatry.”

In Muslim teaching, God is pure will and thereby God is not bound by reason. Making it possible for the shifting morality of war observed throughout the rapid Islamic expansion during the six, seven and eight centuries. These expansions were driven by military conquest and forced conversion of conquered populations that are no different from what we are observing in Iraq and other countries. The main difference is that a component of todays “Islamic radicals” grew up in western countries (i.e. England).

The interaction between faith and reason has been a staple of Christian theology since the early apostolic church and serves a stark contract to the Muslim view of God’s absolute transcendence; where such interaction is subjugated to the will of God. This excludes the fundamental logical principle of non-contradiction since the overriding factor is the will of God and not natural law. This is the point of discussion between the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleogus and his Persian interlocutor referred by Pope Benedict in his address and at the crux of today’s barbaric persecution of non-Muslims in Islamic countries. As Pope Benedict XVI quoted the Emperor:

“Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. “God”, he says, “is not pleased by blood – and not acting reasonably (σὺν λόγω) is contrary to God’s nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats… To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death…”.

The solution is complex, but it starts by confronting the truths about Islam both the good and the bad. On one hand history shows a time, albeit brief period,  where Hellenization of Islamic theology led to fruitful and peaceful interactions between Christians and Islamic intellectuals pointing to a possible peaceful way forward, but on the other hand, history also shows us what happen when Islam rejects such principles and adheres to a plain interpretation of the Qur’an. Given the absence of moral certitude in an age of moral relativism so dominant in the West it may be up to the moderate voices in Islam to put an end to such barbaric acts, as some have done in Iraq, at the cost of their own life. The problem is that you can hardly hear them in the West.

Reference:

Pope Benedict XVI Resenburg Address.

Catholic Archibishop of Mosul: “Islam Does Not Say That All Men are Equal”

ISIS “split her in two; she would not convert!”